Standing in the Rain
This morning, after one of the longest, most spirit-killing stretches of bad days I can remember in a long time, I saw this bird.
It’s been raining for days, which hasn’t boosted my mood, but quite frankly, these extraordinary circumstances were coming – like a bad-luck tsunami – regardless of the weather. From tech issues that kept me in the office endlessly – and then mentally attacked the restless little bit of sleep I did grab – to having a dead car battery in a sketchy parking lot, it seemed like my peonies weren’t the only things destined to be pummeled into headless stalks.
I figured there had to be a metaphor in seeing this bird, just sitting out there exposed in the POURING rain, while I stood at the window with a spine locked already in anticipation of what could very likely be yet another truly crummy day. Or maybe I was desperate for a lesson or some meaning to come from all the exhausting idiocy.
I could just sit and watch what goes on in the yard for hours. Even observing the cat and dog fascinates me. The interplay between them—their means of random yet fluid communication…. They’re active, yet not purposelessly. They’re in sync, yet fully independent of spirit. I don’t know, I love it.
I imagined the bird had just decided, “All right, screw it. I’m sick of ducking for cover day after day after day. If it’s just going to keep raining, I’m going to stand out here and take what comes.” (I didn’t claim not to be delusional – just roll with me on this one.)
When I make mistakes or it seems like I’m being beaten up for no reason whatsoever – seemingly because the planets are out of alignment – I feel an instinctive need to draw in and protect myself. The pressure of the stress of the moment of the situation … it can be crushing. After a while, you start to wonder what you did to deserve THIS.
It can be hard to wake up the next morning, see that it’s pouring rain again, and muster up the energy to stand out in the downpour one more time.
As conscientious business owners, we try to project into those ridiculous situations grace and confidence and energy, even when we don’t feel it. The strain affects us (and often those around us) because it’s not just work. It can’t just sit and it often won’t wait. It’s personal because it’s about your reputation and ability. It’s your little Frankenstein, your creation, and it’s your job (usually solely) to ensure it doesn’t implode.
We know those moments will pass; we know they are just little hiccoughs in an otherwise upward climb we’re trying to face each day with broad, shining, confident smiles on our faces. But sometimes you don’t want to be the damn bird – you want to be the chipmunk stuffing his face and snoring away in some cozy hole somewhere.
So how do we find the strength to stand in the rain when we’re already soaked through and shivering? I’ll tell you what I did, and it’s probably silly.
I printed the picture of that dumb bird and hung it over my desk to remind me that when that interminably pointless conference call is preventing me from doing the 1000 other things I need to do or I feel like I’ve encountered a problem that just will not resolve, that I can just stand in the rain for a moment and not let it pummel me. I don’t have to get emotional or protect myself. I just need to wait it out, to take what comes, and know it’ll all pass by soon enough.
And to make me feel less like a weirdo with a picture of my own backyard on my wall – literally the view I have when I stand up from my desk – I put a quote in there that [coincidentally?] came in my Chinese takeout last night:
No man is free who is not master of himself.
So true, yet so easy to forget.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, I encourage you to check out the sequel, published in May 2020 during COVID-19.